ILR260 Research Project Assignment

ILR260 Research Project Assignment
Explore an ethical or social issue surrounding some aspect of information technology
DUE: Last day of the course
You will develop your Research Project in a series of clearly-defined, manageable steps over the four weeks of the course.
One of our course objectives in ILR 260 is to “explore ethical and social issues surrounding information technology”, and your research projects—pieces of which you will share with classmates—will serve this objective and become part of the content of the course.
Often students will select projects that relate to their academic majors or current jobs, but this is not a formal requirement. The most important thing is to pursue a research question that genuinely interests you. Information technology now touches just about every area of life. The point of your paper will be to craft a response, however preliminary, to a real question about some aspect of information technology.
A “real” question is one that has no single, straightforward answer, and that will require you, in addressing the question, to draw upon and synthesize information from a variety of sources.
Questions that lend themselves to simple explanatory or “how-to” answers (for example, “What is Twitter?” or “How can people protect their computers from hackers?”) will not work for this assignment.
Questions that will work for this assignment appear near the end of this document. Choose one of these for your Research Project. Don’t worry if a classmate selects the same question. Each of you will inevitably turn up different kinds of sources and produce very different final projects.
If none of the questions interest you… There should be at least one question on the list that interests you, or that you can modify so that the question interests you. But if you’d like, you can propose a question not included on the list. Make sure the question you are proposing addresses an ethical or social issue related to information technology. Also make sure it is not overly broad. Ask yourself:
 Could an entire book potentially be written on this question? If so, the question is too broad for a short research paper.
 Does the question contain multiple components? If so, select one component to focus on in your paper. (Hint: If your question includes a comma, it is probably too broad.
As you develop the project, keep in mind that our focus in ILR 260 is inquiry, not argumentation. Argumentation is a worthy area of study and is a focus of other courses you may take at the university. In your ILR 260 research project, however, your primary goal is to explore your research question with depth and sophistication rather than to persuade an audience of a particular viewpoint. While you will need to propose some sort of answer to your question in the final version of your project, that answer may be tentative. It may, for example, point in the direction of further questions and further research. It may identify contradictions in
your research that are at this time irresolvable. Again, in writing this paper, focus on exploring, interpreting, and synthesizing ideas rather than on “defending” a thesis.
Keep in mind, too, that you will carry out your research using published information and opinions. You should not try to do primary research of your own, such as surveys or experiments. This kind of research is specialized, varies from one discipline to the next, and is beyond the scope of ILR260. As you progress through each stage of the project, you might find it helpful to keep in mind that the skills you are practicing have applications well beyond this course, and also beyond the academy. Whether you are writing a college paper or a workplace report, or just trying explain something to another person, you will want to be able to connect ideas in logical ways, to illustrate those ideas with clear explanations and examples, and to explain the nature of any sources you’ve consulted.
For an example of a completed ILR260 Final Research Project written by a past ILR260 student (and shared with the student’s permission), see
1. Project Introduction (due end of Week 1)
2. Library Research Report (due end of Week 2)
3. Draft of Research Project (due end of Week 3)
4. Final draft of Research Project (due last day of class)
Length: 900-1200 words (not including citation page)
Format: Please use APA citation style. (If you are majoring in English, you may use MLA instead.)
Your final project will not include an abstract (but if you’d like an abstract-writing help resource for the future, here is one you might want to check out: How to write a research abstract )
Visual Element: You will design and incorporate into your paper one data visualization, such as a table, chart, or line graph. (We’ll work on this together during Week 3).
Audience: Address your paper to a general audience. Your ILR260 classmates have a wide range of backgrounds and academic interests; assume this kind of broad readership when you write your paper. Assume that your readers are not specialists in your topic area. Ideas must be fully explained and made accessible to a general readership.
Sources: Your research should emphasize peer-reviewed, scholarly journal articles from the NU library’s databases. (Be assured that the database search skills you develop will have applications beyond NU.) Reference as many sources as needed in order to substantively explore your research question, but no fewer than 4. For additional guidance, see the source-selection criteria included in the Week 2 Library Research Report assignment.
Law and Society
 How does anonymity affect online debate?
 Can the democratic quality of public meetings be improved by holding them online?
 How has social media affected local civic engagement? national civic engagement? global civic engagement? (choose one focus)
 Should internet access at public libraries be filtered?
 Is internet shaming a legitimate mode of social criticism?
 Is a major cyber terrorist attack imminent?
 How effective is internet mediation compared with face-to-face mediation?
 Why are internet connection speeds in the United States slower than those in many other developed countries?
 What is the future of the United States Postal Service?
 What is the future of predictive policing?
 What are the privacy implications of facial recognition software?
Media and Culture
 What is the future of local journalism?
 What has been the effect of declining traditional media coverage of local issues?
 What information-technology-related aspirations/ anxieties are expressed in contemporary popular science fiction? (or contemporary Hollywood movies? or video games?)
 Why are celebrity gossip sites so popular?
 What is the future of cinema?
Health and Healthcare
 How effective is virtual reality therapy in the treatment of [PTSD / social anxiety / katsaridaphobia / _______ ]? (choose a focus)
 What motivates people to fake illness online?
 Do internet-based workplace wellness programs lead to improved health?
 What is the future of network-based patient-driven medical research?
 Can psychotherapy be effectively delivered over the internet?
 How has the HIPAA privacy rule affected health research?
 Are electronic medical record systems adequately protected?
 How is “big data” changing the management or treatment of ________ ? (choose a focus).
 How will sociable robots change care-giving?
 Does social networking contribute to depression?
Interpersonal Communication / Relationships
 Is face-to-face communication still necessary for forming bonds with others?
 What are the social consequences of texting while in the company of others?
 Has the internet (increased / redefined) infidelity? (choose one focus)
 Should we be concerned about people forming emotional attachments to robots?
Education and Parenting
 How should “sexting” among teenagers be treated by school authorities?
 What should be the role of schools in preventing cyberbullying?
 What should be the role of memorization in internet-era education?
 How has internet pornography affected the sexual attitudes and behaviors of adolescents?
 Should parents use surveillance technology to monitor their children?
 Will MOOCs replace traditional higher education?
 How is social media research changing child custody disputes?
 How do mobile devices affect the social and emotional development of young children?
 How are computerized scheduling systems affecting service-industry employees?
 Will (robots / computers) replace ______ ?
 How is big data changing _____ ?
 How will/does [identify specific information technology] change [identify specific occupation]?
grading information > > >
*Note: Points will be deducted for deviations from assignment requirements/specifications. Greater deviations will result in greater deductions. Per course policy, scores of 50% and higher are reserved for submissions that attempt to meet assignment requirement/specifications.
Focus is clear, specific, and sustained.
Clear and sustained focus.
Focus is basically clear; some content may deviate from stated focus
Focus is unclear and/or unsustained.
Lacks focus; lacks coherence.
Approach is sophisticated.
Approach is appropriate to college-level research writing and to the ILR260 project specifically.
Approach is somewhat simplistic and/or somewhat too broad.
Approach is overly simplistic and/or overly broad.
Approach inappropriate to college-level writing and/or the assignment
Source selection meets assignment requirements; sources are strong and skillfully chosen for direct relevance and for the substance and complexity they bring to the inquiry.
Source selection meets assignment requirements; sources are strong and relevant to the inquiry.
Sources meet assignment requirements. A small percentage of the sources may exhibit problems such as insufficient currency, relevancy, or depth.
Source selection suggests attempt to meet assignment requirements, but a significant percentage of sources exhibit problems such as insufficient currency, relevancy, or depth.
Sources mostly do not meet assignment requirements. Many source-selection problems.
Source identification (Who?) is precise and smoothly handled
Source identification (Who?) is competently handled
Source identification (Who?) may be imprecise or awkward in places
Source identification (Who?) is imprecise or awkward, and occasionally missing
Source identification (Who?) is mostly missing, or is mostly incorrect
Explanation of source content is complete (What? How? So What?), accurate, and concise.
Explanation of source content is complete (What? How? So What?) and accurate.
Explanation of source content is sufficiently well-developed and sufficiently accurate.
Some source content is misrepresented or is not sufficiently well-explained.
Most source content is misrepresented or is not sufficiently well-explained.
Strong source integration. Paper demonstrates sophisticated sense of when to use a direct quote versus a paraphrase versus a summary, and of how to incorporate source material into sentences and paragraphs.
Good source integration. Paper demonstrates a good understanding overall of when to use a direct quote versus a paraphrase versus a summary, and of how to incorporate source material into sentences and paragraphs.
Uneven source integration. For example, occasional excess use of direct quoting, or incorporation of sources in ways that are occasionally unclear or that make the material difficult to understand.
Poor source integration. Overall, paper demonstrates an inadequate understanding of when to use a direct quote versus a paraphrase versus a summary, and of how to incorporate source material into sentences and paragraphs.
Sources are not incorporated effectively in most or all of the paper.
Strong synthesis; paper makes a contribution to knowledge
Good synthesis of ideas
Synthesis is present, but underdeveloped, or may take form of an overly-simplistic structure (such as a pros-and-cons summary)
Minimal synthesis
Compiles rather than synthesizes
cont’d >>
cont’d from previous page
Strong organization
Good organization
Some organizational problems
Poor organization
Little organization
Clear and well-crafted transitions
Clear transitions
Some transitions are unclear, or ill-fitting
Most transitions are unclear, or ill-fitting
Weak transitions throughout
Visual element is well-designed, directly relevant to the inquiry, and smoothly integrated
Visual element is well-designed, relevant to the inquiry, and correctly integrated
Visual element has some design problems and/or is somewhat awkwardly/incorrectly integrated and/or does not sufficiently serve the inquiry
Visual element has design problems and/or is incorrectly integrated and/or does not serve the inquiry
Weak use of visual element (poorly-designed, insufficiently relevant, and poorly-integrated)
Strong conclusion
Good conclusion
Some problems with the conclusion (for example, overly abrupt, or not well-aligned with the body of the project)
Significant problems with the conclusion.
Inadequate conclusion
Confidence in use of Standard English, language reflects a practiced and/or refined understanding of syntax and usage.
Conveys a good understanding of Standard English; the writer is clear in his/her attempt to articulate main points, but may demonstrate moments of “flat” or unrefined language.
Presence of sentence-level errors and awkwardness of expression, but not of such frequency and severity as to significantly impede understanding.
Awkward expression and sentence-level errors occur frequently, often impeding understanding.
Awkward expression and sentence-level errors occur throughout the paper and significantly impede understanding.
Adheres to APA citation format (MLA for arts/humanities majors)
Adheres to APA citation format (MLA for arts/humanities majors); occasional citation errors are at level of presentation (that is, the errors would not prevent a reader from being able to connect in-text and end citations, or from being able to independently track down the references)
Evidence of attempt to adhere to APA citation format (MLA for arts/humanities majors), but with some errors in presentation and content that would prevent readers from being able to understand or locate sources
Insufficient adherence to APA citation format (MLA for arts/humanities majors); significant/communication-impeding errors in presentation and content
Major deviations from APA or MLA citation format


One response

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